“Cherry” is Sharp Objects’ Superbly Superficial Sunday

I still think of Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You  when I hear Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”, the song Amma and Camille sing at the party before rollerblading around town and the song fades into the now signature “Tumbling Lights”

John Keene is getting arrested next week finally so we can maybe figure out who the actual killer is, maybe its Adora and the creepy step dad

More of The Acid this week as their song “Ghost” which was featured in the first part of the trailer closes out the episode: 

For all its wheel spinning I actually enjoyed “Cherry”. It distilled the themes of the story in a way that made it pleasant to watch. There were also some valuable human moments. Getting to see Amma and Camille be sisters for once was nice. Nobody at HBO has ever gone to a high school party. The episode fleshes out the youth of ghost town to show what is actually at risk. It is also the least toxic representation the show has seen while still being true to what came before. John Keene is creepy and the show pushes him as a suspect without drawing anyone else up. The chopped off ear bit from his girlfriend is interesting. The line about a possible frame followed by dismissing the perp as a woman is annoying. Willis deciding to dig into Camille’s past feels needless. It at least puts more urgency on her past to function forward at the cost of defining her by her trauma. Considering Willis is a bad detective, it’s odd he would suddenly dig into her past so urgently. (Maybe he just wants to know what food she likes for their date?)

The raging character toxicity producer Marti Noxon (The Bachelor, UnReal) brings to her work is a bit much. The relentless bullying depictions are overkill, and producers seem unaware of how their attitudes can perpetuate real world violence. It’s put to good use in the scene in which Camille is confronted by a boy from her childhood who preyed on her. He’s haunted by his actions but Camille is very over it and dismisses his apology. He couldn’t even get it up so it was no loss (“I guess we both got screwed”). The relentless flashbacks to this moment say otherwise but Amy Adams remains convincing. What makes her valuable as an actress is that she can give a lot of insight into her character yet still remain a cypher. It is difficult to get inside her head. I liken her to Kevin Costner that way. To me this scene is actually one of the most powerful on the show in this tossed off moment. A small man,  regretful, ashamed, bares his soul- by cornering someone and forcing them to listen. And he is rightfully, painfully denied. Camille has every right to reject his reconciliation yet we can see how he feels. The show doesn’t clarify whether this is deep disdain or apathy by Camille. A moment where a female director would have made a stronger difference. Vallee’s foggy atmosphere underserves the narrative. He remains a questionable vessel to deliver the material. Since the theme of the book is about female violence its a surprising to have a male reaction. It also from another point of view gets to the male anxiety of being completely useless. A controversial piece written by a rape survivor who sought to lessen its impact comes to mind.
So what makes this episode great? Well Camille has some fun, and Sharp Objects needed the reprieve. It’s relatable to some trips I’ve had. The fun yet dangerous atmosphere captured the moment right. It is also the least abstract Sharp Objects has been. Its ideas are cliché, but the episode fleshed out the town youth and is a welcome breath of air. Some may not appreciate the stalling, but I needed entertainment rather than information.
Rating: A-



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